The MafiaThe Mafia, a well-known crime organization,is still prevalent in society today.
In the past five years the SicilianMafia has taken some heavy hits, with the murders of two leading prosecutorsin Mafia-related trials (Coming back). The prosecutors were GiovanniFalcone ( see picture), and Paulo Borsellino. Their successors have managedto put behind bars their murderers and an entire Mafia “cupola” ( ComingBack). So what exactly is the Mafia? And where did it originate?The word “Mafia” has two meanings, oneis that it means “manly” and the other is ” Morte alla Franca ItaliaAnela” which means, ” death to France is Italy’s cry” ( Mafia History). The meaning came from the fact that Italians more specifically Sicilians,had to adapt to numerous invasions from Arabs, Norman’s and the French. The word Mafia in Arab also means refuge.
The original inhabitants of Sicilywere oppressed and had to seek places of shelter and refuge ( Arlacchi). The Norman’s when invading Sicily in the 11th century; the native peoplewere forced into labor on the large estates their rulers made. Theironly way of escape was to seek shelter in the hills on the island of Sicily( refer to picture of Corleone). There in the hills the natives formed” Secret societies ” that were meantto unify the natives against their enemies.
The societies createda bond or strong sense of family based on their Sicilian heritage ( MafiaHistory). Their societies began to form structureand the idea of family was carried out through this framework. The layoutwas strongly hierarchical. At the head of the organizations were Dons orchiefs, who were in supreme control of the Mafia chapters in each village( Coming Back ). They however reported to the ” don of dons” who livedin the capital of Sicily, the city of Palermo.
Mafia leadership isthe “Cupola” much like a board of directors ( blumenthal p14). The Mafia Dons never really got into the actual “business” they were involvedin as not to get their hands dirty. They formed individual units calledCaporegime that answered to the Don. The Caporegime controlled the”soldiers” or workers that did the dirty work of collecting debts and evenmurder (Arlacchi 23). ” Joining the Mafia is a lifetime commitmentstronger than family from which you cannot retire, you are bound by bloodand sworn by secrecy ( Mafia History). ” To join the Mafia you must takean oath based on five principals.
The Omerta, is the first principal itis the code of silence that no matter what, even under the threat of tortureor death, you will reveal no secrets. Second you must pledge total obedienceto your don. Third you must lend assistance to any befriended Mafia faction. Fourth you must vow to avenge any attack on members of the family, ” anattack on one is an attack on all. ” Fifthly and the most important is toavoid any and all contact with the law ( Mafia History).
By the 19th century the Mafia had grownvast and strong. It had once been a small group of rebels that had turnedinto a large criminal society ( I. O. C. G). In these early times of the Mafiathe most common form of extortion was the handing out of “Black Hand Notes.
“These notes were handed to wealthy citizens, and were sincere requestsfor large sums of money in exchange for some form of protection. If thevictims did not comply with the note, they could expect bombings, kidnappings,and murders to help convince them ( Mafia History). In 1876 a Mafia donRaffeale Palizzo ran for political office to infiltrate Sicilian government,and run it from inside and outside the law. He succeeded in getting electedby holding many voters under gunpoint. Inside the government he had DonCrispi of Sicily elected Prime minister. Twenty-six hundred public administratorswere indicted for corruption and other crimes in Sicily ( Arlacchi 28-29).
The whole island had come under Mafia control and they began to suck nationalfunds into their hands. Yet the Mafia was and always will be opposedby some people or organizations. Opposition to the Mafia was always metwith violence ( Blumenthal 7). A well-known example of this, is the caseof a man Emanuel Notarbartolo who was the director of the bank in Sicily. Emanuel publicly announced that he promised to rid the land of the Mafiaonce and for all.
In 1893 he was assassinated, and don Palizzo took overhis position. This was not the end though, Notarbartolo’s son vowed tobring his father’s killers to justice. He managed to get Palizzo indicted,but however the don’s control was so vast that he was released ( MafiaHistory). Witnesses had been unwilling to cooperate and even policedocuments somehow disappeared ( Mafia History). ” By the 1980’s in Italy the growth andexpansion of the Mafia in the businesses of drugs and such had reachedthe point of National emergency, and it didn’t stop there ( arlacchi 38).
“The growth of the Mafia had also extendedoverseas. When people from all over Europe started moving to America fora new and better life, the Mafia saw it is a way to expand and escape persecution( I. O. C. G).
The Mafia thrived in the small Italian neighborhoodsof America. During this early period New Orleans was the largest Mafiabase in the country ( Mafia History). A New Orleans Police Chief DavidHennesey began investigating a murder of an Italian Mafia member, he beganto learn a lot about the ” secret society” operating in his city( MafiaHistory). He then set out to eliminate it, and was murdered by thedon’s of the city. In 1957 in Palermo (see map), the Sicilian Mafia metwith the American branch of the Mafia known as La Cosa Nostra, to set updrug trade(Blumenthal 47-48). La Cosa Nostra means in Sicilian “our thing.
“The Sicilians would run the drugs into the United States and Canada andthe La Cosa Nostra, would sell the drugs. Profit made by one Mafia familyalways gave a margin of it to don’s of other families as gratitude( Blumenthal47-48). They also would let other families share a part of a successfulbusiness as to “wet their beaks. “In conclusion the Sicilian Mafia whichstarted out as a small group of the oppressed fighting back against theinvading Norman’s and French, has grown into a vast criminal empire. TheMafia is still active to this day in Europe and America.
The current headof the Mafia in Sicily is thought to be Salvatore “Toto” Riina, who iscurrently in jail for the Falcone murders. Many more Mafia members wereindicted for the murders, yet others remain at large. The American Mafiahad seemed to be broken with the arrests this trial made. But there istalk of La Cosa Nouva a “New thing” or Mafia regrouping, going back tothe less violent days of secret deals in backrooms with friends in politicalcircles( I. O. C.
G. ). Opinion: My opinion on the Mafia is thatthey are good men at heart but go about everything in the wrong ways. Ithink it was a good thing to band together to fight off invading armies,and I also believe strongly in family and heritage. But what’s wrong isthe selling of drugs and murder.
I believe that gambling is harmless andthey shouldn’t be punished for that, but killing and selling drugs aredifferent. Murder explains itself, and drugs can hurt people, their familiesand children. Also I think children raised in the Mafia will grow to beMafia involved as Italians have strong values of heritage, and if thiscontinues the Mafia may always be in society throughout the future.